The Instant Expert tab on the race cards has the unique ability to condense the entire form profile of every runner in the race into a single, easily digestible, view covering the form in terms of wins (or places), runs, and win (or place) percentage for each of going, class, course, distance, and field size. It also compares today’s official rating with the horse’s last winning official rating. The display is colour coded: green for a higher percentage rate, amber for a middling percentage, and red for a low percentage. Horses with no form under a certain condition have grey figures.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Where a horse has no UK/Irish form – i.e. it is having its first run in Britain or Ireland under Rules – it will not show up on Instant Expert at all.
We make this feature freely available to ALL readers EVERY Thursday for ALL races, including, naturally, our selection of 'free' races as follows...
- 2.25 York
- 4.30 Clonmel
- 5.35 Clonmel
- 5.45 Fontwell
The first of that list is the highest rated, so let's have a look at the 2.25 York, a 6-runner, Group 2 contest for 4yo+ fillies and mares over a left handed 1m2f on good ground...
As you'd expect for a race of this magnitude, all have some decent form behind them and three of them (Forbearance, Noon Star & Thunder Kiss) won last time out. The latter is coming here on a hat-trick, but the former might need the run after a 230-day absence, as might Aristia who hasn't raced for 264 days since disappointing in France.
The in-form Thunder Kiss is the only runner with neither a track nor trip win, but Aristia had won over both at the same time when landing a Listed contest here on her last UK run almost 10 months ago. I mentioned that two of these had been off for over 200 days, but the other four have all raced inside the last four weeks with only Lilac Road failing to make the frame on her seasonal bow.
It's a non-handicap race, so they all carry 9st 2lbs, but based on official ratings, hat-trick seeking Thunder Kiss is 2 to 7lbs well in at the weights. That's the overview from the cards, now let's look a little closer at each of the six, starting at the top with...
ARISTIA Won over this trip (C4) on debut at Newbury 13 months ago before finishing 3rd in a Listed race over the same course and distance four weeks later. The step up to 1m4f and Group 2 racing didn't suit her at Ascot in June but she bounced back to win a Listed race here over course and distance in her last UK run (July '21), but was disappointing in France last time out. That was almost nine months ago, so not only does she need to bounce back, she might also just need a run.
FORBEARANCE Also returns from a lengthy (230 days) break since a UK win, achieved over 1m4f (Group 3) at Newmarket in September just five weeks after she'd won a Listed contest here at York over the same trip. Her best form has been at that trip and today's might be a bit sharp for her, especially if she's not quite race-ready after her break
LILAC ROAD Her last two efforts of 2021 saw her win a 1m2f Listed race at Salisbury before going down by just half a length as a runner-up in a 15-runner Group 3 race (Pride Stakes) at Newmarket in October, where she was only beaten by the re-opposing Ville de Grace. She returned to Newmarket 11 days ago for her seasonal bow and was only 5th of 6 in the Group 2 Dahlia Stakes over 1m1f, but that doesn't tell the whole story as she was only beaten by just over 1.75 lengths in a tight finish and wasn't a bad effort after 205 days off. Sadly for her, she was behind Ville de Grace again that day, so she's probably held by her rival now.
NOON STAR Three wins and two places so far from just six starts and she defied a 313-day absence to land a Listed race at Nottingham over today's trip just over a fortnight ago. In fact, the only blot on her record so far was the only time she's gone beyond 1m2½f, when she toiled late on in the Group 2 Ribblesdale at Ascot last June, finishing 6th of 13, 3.75 lengths adrift. Today's trip should be more to her liking providing she has no ill effects from that comeback effort.
THUNDER KISS Has really taken to racing well, winning five of her twelve starts and making the frame on five other occasions, Her last seven runs have seen her finish 21422 at Group 3 before a couple of wins at Listed class either side of a six-month break in mid-October and then six months later (26 days ago). She was clear with over 2f left of 1m4f to run last time out and scored by 4.5 lengths and that run is probably the best recent effort by any of these and she's set fair to land the hat-trick if running to that level here.
VILLE DE GRACE Has been in good form for a while now after finishing 3rd in a 1m, Gr 3 race at Sandown in August, before stepping up to 1m2f to land a Listed contest at Yarmouth and then ending the season by winning the 15-runner Pride Stakes at Newmarket in early October. She then had 205 days off the track before returning to HQ for the group 2 Dahlia Stakes at the start of this month where she was only headed on the line and beaten by a nose behind Dreamloper who was rated as being 3lbs better. She was by no means disgraced and could bounce back here.
So, we now know that all six have at least one Class 1 win under their belts and that some have won here before and some have won over a similar trip, but the easiest way to compare who has done what is via Instant Expert, of course...
As you'd expect, some good numbers here and when I see Instant Expert predominantly green, it's the reds/ambers that interest me. So, I'm not interested/concerned about Noon Star & Ville De Grace being 0/1 here at York (Noon Star was placed), Forbearance was placed in one of two defeats at this trip and Thunder Kiss & Ville De Grace were also both placed in their sole run in a small field.
That leaves me with...
- Forbearance 1/5 on good ground : has placed in 2 of the 4 defeats, but wouldn't mind it quicker, as she's 2/2 on good to firm
- Lilac Road 1/7 at Class 1 : placed in 2 of the 6 defeats, so not disastrous, but Listed class is probably her ceiling right now
- Thunder Kiss : 0/4 on good ground : placed in 3 of 4, but would like a bit of "give" in the ground, as she's 3 from 3 on Yielding in Ireland
- Thunder Kiss : 0/3 at the trip : placed twice, but her best form is at 1m3f/1m4f
- and Ville de Grace's 0/3 on good ground, placed just once in the three, but has placed on both good to firm runs and has won both both good to soft ground efforts, so she should "get" good ground.
The upshot of the above is that I'm not massively concerned about Thunder Kiss or Ville De Grace, but both Forbearance and Lilac Road look vulnerable there.
We don't have a great deal of draw data for small fields over this trip here at York, but the numbers do point to those drawn centrally having a slight disadvantage with those drawn 'on the edges' faring really well from a place perspective...
...so that might not be great for the likes of Ville de Grace, Aristia or Noon Star, whilst the pace stats from the same set of races above are relatively inconclusive. I suppose the hold-up horses appear to fare worst, but with an IV of 0.95, they're not doing that badly. Leaders win/place most often of the three sets of data we have enough to work with, the mid-div stats need treating lightly off such a small sample size...
Looking back at how these horses have tended to run, I'd suggest that Ville De Grace is likely to be the one to catch, whilst Lilac Road looks set to be dropped in at the rear of the field.
I'll start by splitting the field in half by eliminating Aristia, Forbearance and Lilac Road. Aristia ran poorly last time out and hasn't been seen for some while, she needs to bounce back and is likely to need a run. Forbearance is also likely to need a run after a layoff, the trip might be a bit sharp and she'd prefer quicker ground, whilst Lilac Road is probably a Listed class runner and although possibly better off here than the previous two discards is seen to be held by Ville De Grace, who makes my final three along with the in-form Thunder Kiss and Noon Star.
Of my final three, I think Noon Star is probably slightly weaker than the other two and is rated slightly lower too. She won a tough race recently after a lengthy absence and I'm worried that might take its toll coming back so quickly. So, it's down to Thunder Kiss and Ville De Grace and both have doubts against them on Instant Expert, but the latter really should get this ground, seeing as she's fine either side of it. Thunder Kiss would probably like it softer and a bit longer and it's very tight between them but I'm going for Ville De Grace to beat Thunder Kiss.
The bookies (as of 4.55pm) agree that these are the two most likely to succeed, but have Thunder Kiss as the favourite as a best priced 5/2 with my pick Ville De Grace a 10/3 shot in her bid to land this race for last year's winning trainer, Sir Michael Stoute.
Good Luck everyone and I'll be back with you on Monday 23rd May, Sam Darby will be covering for me whilst I'm in Barcelona for my travel agency "job".